Posts tagged with "Engineering":

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MIT approves new degree combining urban planning and computer science

If you think that urban planning and computer science go hand in hand, MIT’s new degree may just be the subject for you. The MIT faculty just approved the bachelor of science in urban science and planning with computer science at its May 16 meeting, which will be available to all undergraduates starting from the fall 2018 semester. The new major is offered jointly by the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. According to a press release, it will combine “urban planning and public policy, design and visualization, data analysis, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, pervasive sensor technology, robotics and other aspects of both computer science and city planning.” Other inventive and multi-disciplinary methods include ethics and geospatial analysis. “The new joint major will provide important and unique opportunities for MIT students to engage deeply in developing the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to be more effective scientists, planners, and policy makers,” says Eran Ben-Joseph, head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. “It will incorporate STEM education and research with a humanistic attitude, societal impact, social innovation, and policy change — a novel model for decision making to enable systemic positive change and create a better world. This is really unexplored, fertile new ground for research, education, and practice.” Students will spend time in the urban science synthesis lab, which will be a required component of the degree. Advanced technological tools will become an integral aspect of the exciting learning process.
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Meet the incubators and accelerators fostering the next generation of architecture start-ups

Technology is developing at an exponential rate, and while architecture still moves significantly slower than the latest transistor, things are picking up. The Architect's Newspaper (AN) speaks to tech experts Craig Curtis of Katerra (Katerra’s approach could make factory construction a model for the future) to learn more about the revolutionary changes that are in the pipeline for the construction industry, and Dennis Shelden of the Digital Building Lab (Talking about our tech future with the Digital Building Lab) about how we've gotten to this point, and what's next. We also profile several incubators and accelerators behind some of the most influential design and AEC technology start-ups that promise to revolutionize the construction and architecture industries. AN profiled the following: The MINI-owned URBAN-X in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a younger incubator which leverages its assembled experts to guide startups through a semester-long program; Digital agency R/GA, long a major player in the advertising field, has carved out spaces in all of its offices for accelerator space and given startups an easy way to hit the ground running; ZeroSixty, a three-month design-and-technology-focused incubator program, was launched by Gehry Technologies to help bring disruption to the AEC industry; The one-stop shop Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, which gives its members access to makerspaces, fabrication labs, and plenty of research space across a 60,000-square-foot campus; Georgia Tech’s Digital Building Laboratory, which has already released a suite of programs that architect's (especially those who use BIM) have already come to rely on; The advanced offices of the Autodesk BUILD Space, one of the company's best tools for keeping up with the rapidly changing worlds of architecture and design; and New Lab’s 84-000-square foot flagship collaborative tech hub in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The interviews and profiles were originally printed in our April 2018 technology issue.
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Seattle’s second tallest tower rises on steel plates, without rebar

Studies are underway for the eventual construction of the Rainier Square Tower in Seattle, which will eschew a traditional concrete-and-rebar core in favor of a new steel plate system. The mixed-use Rainier Square development’s tower will be Seattle’s second tallest, and the building’s modular core will be a proof-of-concept in the earthquake-prone city. When AN first wrote about the NBBJ-designed and Wright Runstad & Company-developed Rainier Square Tower after its initial unveiling in 2015, comparisons were drawn between the building’s kinked shape and a high-heeled boot. The tower has grown from 795 feet tall to 850, but the distinctive massing and glassy facade have remained the same; the building’s slope is meant to preserve the view of the adjacent Rainier Tower, designed by Minoru Yamasaki. The $570 million Rainier Square Tower will forgo a typical high-rise core, which wraps a steel frame around a concrete core that has been reinforced with steel rebar, and will instead use a modular system of steel plates sandwiched with concrete. A boundary system is set up to shape the core, and the cross-tied plates are moved into place, and then filled onsite. While the construction of a full-scale core mock-up began in October, the general contractor, Lease Crutcher Lewis, has estimated that this alternate method would mean that the superstructure, set to begin work this August, would only take a year to complete. If these claims are true, that’s nearly nine months sooner than a comparable tower of this size. And, as the construction schedule is shortened, Wright Runstad is expected to save 2 percent of its original $370 million building costs. Structural engineer Ron Klemencic, CEO of Magnusson Klemencic Associates (MKA) is the system’s mastermind, and says that even with the increased construction speed and 58-story height, he’s confident that the tower will be able to withstand stress from wind sheering as well as seismic loads. The Rainier Square development will not only include the tower, but also a cubic glass-clad hotel wedged between Rainier Tower and Rainier Square Tower. Yamasaki’s concrete tower, affectionately named “The Beaver” by Seattle locals for the way the building balloons up from a narrow base akin to a chewed log, is the only original building on the block that will remain. If the engineering claims bear out and the new core system proves as easy to install as the contractors are expecting, Rainier Square Tower should be complete by April 2020.
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Cross-laminated timber could lead a mid-rise revolution

This is an article from our special November timber issue. Engineers specializing in cross-laminated timber (CLT) see its future less in boutique prototype towers, requiring case-by-case demonstrations for approval, than in a meat-and-potatoes mid-rise market. While, according to Colorado State University's John van de Lindt, “some of those pioneering early CLT buildings are really almost like a partial R&D project in disguise,” he and colleagues predict that the field's maturation depends on the incorporation of research-driven CLT standards into building codes. “If you're going to just do a two-story residential home, you have a perfect design code pathway to do it,” said Shiling Pei of the Colorado School of Mines, chief investigator on a National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported study of seismic design methods. “But if you want to go taller, especially [if] you want to go above 85 feet— that is currently IBC [International Building Code] for Type IV, heavy timber—then you have to do something else...a lot of testing to try to convince the local building-code officials.” He views CLT beyond about 20 stories skeptically, on economic grounds: “In my projects, I say it's tall wood; it's not high-rise wood.” Pei cites the 2011 CLT Handbook by Canadian nonprofit FPInnovations as a pivotal document, republished in a 2013 U.S. edition with input from the American Wood Council (AWC), Forest Products Laboratory, WoodWorks, and APA: The Engineered Wood Association (formerly the American Plywood Association). In 2011, APA and the American National Standards Institute developed a performance-based standard, PRG 320, updating it in 2012 and 2017; it offers detailed specifications on CLT products' composition, dimensions, shear strength, stiffness, and other properties. The AWC's National Design Specifications for Wood Construction and the IBC include basic CLT sections in their 2015 editions. Since seismic risks in Europe (Italy excepted) are milder, the transfer of CLT technology to Canada and the U.S., particularly for larger scales and open plans, requires standards addressing lateral forces. The next hurdle is for the American Society of Civil Engineers' influential code book, ASCE 7: Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures to address CLT, particularly its response-modification coefficient or R factor (not to be confused with R values for thermal resistance) in its seismic design provisions. “To make [CLT] economically competitive,” van de Lindt said, “it really needs to have these seismic performance coefficients (essentially an R factor) in the code, so that people don't have to get special permission every time they want to use it,” incurring engineers' reviewing costs. Results of van de Lindt's R-factor studies are expected next year, and the code-revision cycle takes about five years; if a proposal based on the findings passes review by Building Seismic Safety Council committees and a public-comment period, it should enter the 2022 edition of ASCE 7, then IBC. “With CLT, everything rotates like a rigid body under seismic stresses," van de Lindt said. "Panels do not deform enough to dissipate energy and suck load right into them.... For a steel special moment frame that's detailed for seismic, it can be an R of 8, [which has] a lot of ductility.” Yet adding concrete or steel lateral systems, as in Brock Commons (Acton Ostry Architects, Vancouver, page 12) and Carbon12 (PATH Architecture, Portland), respectively, requires multiple trades on-site and squanders CLT's construction speed. Advanced “disruptive technologies” common in Japan (base or inter-story isolation using sliders, rockers, or damping devices) require special review. Very tall wood, 20 stories and above, he believes, calls for performance-based modeling rather than prescriptive tables and “will always require review, at least in our lifetime.” Andre Barbosa of Oregon State University's School of Civil and Construction Engineering and Tallwood Design Institute concurred, noting that CLT projects above about ten stories are often hybrids with concrete cores or steel for lateral resistance. “You get the best out of both materials. You have the CLT that's lighter; [its] strength-to-weight ratio is very, very good. You get the concrete that allows you to go to longer spans, but also it creates that natural barrier for smoke and essentially for fire across floors.” Current methods of addressing timber's susceptibility to moisture and insects are generally adequate, he says, adding that long-term deflection (creep) in CLT buildings tall enough for large loads needs further study. Supported by the NSF's Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure Tall Wood program, Pei and colleagues recently built a two-story prototype for testing on the world's largest shake table at the University of California San Diego. Simulating 14 quakes of varying severity up through a "maximum credible earthquake," a once in 2,500-years event, “the building essentially received no damage, and we don't need to repair anything,” Pei reported, noting that CLT rocking walls actually outperformed their concrete and steel counterparts in resilience. His next studies will test a ten-story building under combined seismic stress and fire; the experiment has earned the inevitable nickname “shake and bake.” Flammability is “a concern very often expressed, but an easy one to dismiss,” said Lech Muszynski, associate professor of wood science and engineering at Oregon State University's College of Forestry. Studies support the counterintuitive idea that charring produces an insulating layer that actually slows pyrolysis, making it advance predictably and sparing enough wood to pass two-hour fire-resistance tests. “I've done some testing on unprotected CLT assemblies here in the states, large-scale floor and wall assemblies; there is a large library of similar tests being done in Europe in the past,” Muszynski reported, crediting Ario Ceccotti of the Istituto per la Valorizzazione del Legno e delle Specie Arboree (Trees and Timber Institute) for similar research in Italy and Japan. These tests have largely involved exposed CLT, though in practice the material is commonly encapsulated in gypsum board, adding another hour or so to its fire-resistance rating. Two commercial CLT manufacturers in the U.S., Muszynski noted, Oregon's D.R. Johnson (which he advises) and Montana's SmartLam, have their products fire-certified. Steel components within joints, Muszynski added, are more vulnerable than the wood. He uses a photo from the 1906 San Francisco fire to illustrate “the difference between flammable and fire-safe”: A severely burnt wooden beam shows charring and exposed nails, indicating deep fire penetration, but remains rigid, while two heat-weakened steel beams flop across the wooden member, resembling soggy pasta. Adhesives also require attention: Some bonded timber products use melamine urea-formaldehyde resins, which harden under heat, but the more common adhesive is polyurethane, which softens if the char reaches bond lines. Moisture can be more hazardous when worksite protections are lacking: Muszynski recalls an Italian project where financial delays left a site idle for several months, exposing CLT to rain—and underscoring the importance of using contractors familiar with the material.

Reimagine the Canals: Competition

The New York Power Authority and the New York State Canal Corporation launched a competition seeking ideas to shape the future of the New York State Canal System, a 524-mile network composed of the Erie Canal, the Oswego Canal, the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, and the Champlain Canal. Selected ideas will be awarded a total of $2.5 million toward their implementation. The New York State Canal System is one of the most transformative public works projects in American history. The entire system was listed as a National Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014 and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2017 for its role in shaping the American economy and urban development. Despite its past success, vessel traffic on the Canal System has steadily declined over the last century. Deindustrialization and competition from rail, pipelines, roadways and the St. Lawrence Seaway, put the Canals at a disadvantage in transporting freight. Pleasure boating activity levels have likewise fallen and are today only half what they once were. In contrast to the decreasing maritime activity on the Canal System, recreational uses along it – from hiking and bicycling in spring, summer, and fall to cross-country skiing and ice fishing in winter – have grown in popularity. The 750-mile Empire State Trail, which will run from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo, is expected to be completed in 2020. It will further enhance opportunities for recreation along portions of the Canal System. To date, however, much of the Canal System’s potential to stimulate tourism and economic activity in the communities along its corridor remains untapped. To address the challenges and opportunities facing the Canal System, the Competition seeks visionary ideas for physical infrastructure projects as well as programming initiatives that promote:
  • the Canal System as a tourist destination and recreational asset
  • sustainable economic development along the canals and beyond
  • the heritage and historic values of the Canal System
  • the long-term financial sustainability of the Canal System
The two-stage Competition is open to individuals, businesses, non-profits and municipalities. Respondents are encouraged to form multidisciplinary teams. These could include, for example, urban designers and architects, planning and community specialists, hydrologists, infrastructure engineers, artists and curators, development economists, real estate developers, local officials and financing partners. Submissions from both domestic and international teams are welcome. Submission deadline is January 5, 2018. More details about the Competition structure, timeline, and submission guidelines can be found on the website.
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Abba Tor (1923-2017), the engineer of the almost impossible

The two most daring architects of the middle of the 20th century, Eero Saarinen and Louis Kahn, both went to the Abba Tor when they needed help designing groundbreaking buildings. Saarinen enlisted Tor’s help on the TWA Terminal at JFK Airport, the Deere & Company headquarters, and the Repertory Theater at Lincoln Center. Kahn worked with him on the Yale British Art Center and the Roosevelt Island Four Freedoms Park. Abba Tor died peacefully of heart and kidney failure, on February 11 at age 93, in Hastings-on-Hudson, where he had lived for the last 50 years. He was born in Warsaw on November 1, 1923, but grew up in Palestine (before Israel became a state). He joined the Israeli underground when he was an engineering student at the Technion, where he met his wife Nomi, who was studying architecture. He was also involved in the establishment of the Israeli Defense Forces, the unusual co-ed military that aligned the army, navy and air force. The IDF sent him to the United States in 1952 to work with the U.S. Bureau of Standards. While here, he earned a Master’s degree at the Columbia University School of Engineering. His daughter, Shuli, was born in America, too, but the family returned to Israel the next year. Two years later, however, Tor left the military to start his own engineering practice and ended up back in New York where he soon became associated with the firm of Ammann & Whitney. He also taught at the Columbia University School of Architecture and did peer reviews nationally for the Connecticut Society of Engineering, though he went back to Israel in the mid-60s and, using a Danish system, built Carmiel, the first prefabricated housing community in the country. Abba Tor loved to tell stories about the ways his clients operated. He liked working with architects who pushed boundaries but noted that they did so very differently. Saarinen was a form giver—searching for the appropriate image and experiential feeling for every building. He just wanted the engineer to help him make it stand up. Tor would have to cajole him into logical (or at least practical) solutions. At the TWA Terminal, that meant convincing Saarinen that the entire roof, all 1.4 acres of it, could not be made of one continuous embracing shape. It had to be built in pieces with joints and separations. A single pour would lead to shrinkage—and later to cracks. But there was a benefit to the solution. The joints between the shells created the dramatic three-foot-wide skylights. But it was not easy. The engineer had to follow the architect’s dictates and talk him into sustainable forms. In 1962, after Saarinen had died, Tor left Ammann & Whitney to form a partnership with Henry Pfisterer, an engineer who had worked with the Saarinen firm on Yale’s Morse and Stiles Colleges and on the North Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana. Working with Louis Kahn presented different challenges. It was, in a way, more a true partnership since Kahn wanted to understand structural forces at the beginning and develop designs to accommodate them, though his buildings, too, were unique and unprecedented. “Abba Tor was an invaluable partner to Louis Kahn in the design of the Yale Center for British Art helping to structure the most sublime moments of the architecture. Abba rationalized the building and contributed significantly to the resolution of the Center's interdependent ‘served’ and ‘servant’ spaces,” as George Knight, the New Haven architect who recently renovated the Center, explained. But even working with Kahn had its challenges. Tor recalled that once, when told that he could not do what he wanted, Kahn had said, "'You engineers are all the same; you are like sausage cutters!' I said to him, 'Lou, we are not sausage cutters, we are more like the male dancers in a classical ballet. Sometimes we jump and soar, and other times we stand there firmly on the stage and when we see the ballerina take the big leap, we catch her in mid-air, we turn her around, and we make sure the she lands gracefully and doesn't fall on her face.'" (This recollection, from the archives of the National Building Museum, was posted recently in a podcast by architectural photographer Timothy Schenk.) Even in recent years, as his health failed, Tor traveled when he could and stayed abreast of current events around the world, following newspapers from several continents. He had opinions on everything. He made several appearances in the recent film shown in the Public Broadcasting System's American Masters series, "Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future" in December. Abba Tor was predeceased by his wife Nomi and his son Daniel. His daughter, Shuli Tor, survives him.
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Engineer Vincent J. DeSimone passes away

Vincent J. DeSimone (1937 - 2016) was the founder and chairman of New York–based DeSimone Consulting Engineers; he passed on November 16th in a fight against cancer. He started DeSimone Consulting Engineers in 1969; the firm was a behind a vast range of projects over the decades, including Zaha Hadid Architects' 520 W. 28th St., Selldorf Architects' David Zwirner 20th St. Gallery, Gehry Partners' Fisher Center at Bard College, SOM and SLCE Architects' The New School University Center in New York City, and Robert A.M. Stern Architects and Rolland, DelValle & Bradley's Jacksonville Public Library in Jacksonville, Florida, among many others.
DeSimone also worked with Bjarke Ingels on BIG’s 'Grove at Grand Bay' project in south Miami. On Thursday of last week, Ingels described DeSimone (who he referred to as “Vince”) as a “visionary” and as "was one of the greatest engineers I worked with." He went on to add how sometimes the best engineers sometimes fall victim to providing overly complex solutions to demonstrate their engineering prowess, whereas DeSimone "had a brilliant capacity to solve insanely complex structural challenges with the simplest, most blatant answer possible.”
In a message, DeSimone Consulting Engineers has asked, "In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Lustgarten Foundation and Foundation for Prader-Willi Research."
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This pavilion at London’s V&A Museum will be built by robots to resemble construction patterns of beetles

As part of the Victoria & Albert Museum's Engineering Season in London, a pavilion constructed by robots is set to steal the show. The installation, titled Elytra Filament Pavilion, was designed by German foursome Achim Menges, Thomas Auer, Moritz Dörstelmann, and Jan Knippers. It will be the group's first ever public commission in the U.K. The Engineering Season, in its inaugural year, will include a major exhibition for the esteemed Danish-British engineer, Ove Arup. The pavilion will kickstart the season and will look at the emergence of robotics being used in architecture, engineering, and construction. The structure will be constructed by robots and resemble construction principles found in nature—in particular, the forewing shells of flying beetles known as elytra. As a result, an undulating canopy will be formed from a compact carbon fiber cell structure. During the season, the pavilion will demonstrate its adaptivity, responding to data on structural behavior and circulatory patterns within the V&A's John Madejski Garden. This will be made possible by the implementation of real-time sensors in the carbon fibers themselves. The V&A Engineering Season will highlight the importance of engineering in our daily lives and consider engineers as the "unsung heroes" of design, who play a vital and creative role in the creation of our built environment. Visitors to the exhibition, can see the pavilion on display beginning May 18th while some may be lucky enough to witness the pavilion's cells being fabricated by a Kuka robot (pictured) during the season at select moments. In a press release, Achim Menges, said: “Remember the impact that the first industrial revolution here in England had on architecture, as strikingly expressed in the Victorian Greenhouse? With Elytra: Filament Pavilion, we aim to offer a glimpse of the transformative power of the fourth industrial revolution currently underway, and the way it again challenges established modes of design, engineering and making." The pavilion will be on show until November 6, 2016, with admission to the garden being free. Meanwhile, the exhibition Engineering the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design runs from June 18 through November 6, 2016. Tickets will go on sale in April 2016 and admission will be £7.
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Mecanoo tapped for $500 million Engineering Campus in Manchester, UK

The Dutch firm from Delft has already made a significant impact in the UK when they unveiled Europe's largest library in Birmingham. In what will be its third development in the city, the University of Manchester has announced plans for a new 839,000 square foot engineering campus designed by Mecanoo. In the words of Mecanoo, the campus "will transform the way in which the University educates future engineers in response to the needs of the fast-changing global economy." Set to open in 2020, the development is part of the University's scheme "to create a world-leading teaching, learning and research campus to develop the engineers and innovators of tomorrow." The site will be the University's fourth School for Engineering under the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences. In addition to this it will also become a base for 1,300 academics, researchers and support staff as well as 6,750 students. Instead of designing a group of buildings for the school, Mecanoo went with a single holistic building that employs an expressed structural steel frame. Professor Martin Schröder, Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University, said: “This outstanding new campus development will build upon our proud heritage of innovation and discovery across engineering and science that began with the establishment of the Manchester Mechanics’ Institute in 1824. MECD will inspire engineers to continue our pioneering spirit and to apply their knowledge and help modern industry overcome global challenges, such as climate change, finite natural resources and changing world markets.” Mecanoo is also designing the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington D.C., the Delft Municipal Offices and Train Station, and La Llotja Theatre and Conference Centre in Lleida, Spain. The firm also completed its first project in Boston earlier this year.
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Two of the biggest names in engineering, Weidlinger and Thornton Tomasetti, have joined forces

Two of the world’s most respected engineering firms, Thornton Tomasetti and Weidlinger Associates, have merged. Operating under the Thornton Tomasetti name, the deal means that the firm will now offer 10 practices offering a "broader range" of service to its clients as well as employing 1,200 staff and operating in 34 cities across the globe. The 10 practices will include:
  • Forensics
  • Renewal
  • Weidlinger Applied Science
  • Property Loss Consulting
  • Structural Engineering
  • Construction Engineering
  • Weidlinger Protective Design
  • Facade Engineering
  • Weidlinger Transportation
  • Sustainability
The Weidlinger name was kept in some services due to industry reputation. The firm will remain headquartered in New York City, with offices at the current 51 Madison Avenue and 40 Wall Street locations.
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The Chicago River was reversed 115 years ago—this infographic tells its story

Via Chicago Line Cruises, this infographic tells the tale of one of the greatest engineering projects ever completed: the reversal of the Chicago River. Chicago was booming in the late 1800s, but like many cities of the day it lacked proper sewer infrastructure. As a result the city was choking on its own waste.   To solve the problem, engineers launched a project so demanding it spawned its own informal textbook of geological-scale interventions: the Chicago School of Earth Moving. By reversing the river, Chicagoans sent their waterborne waste into the Mississippi River and eventually the Gulf of Mexico, instead of into Lake Michigan. That decision was controversial at the time, and part of the reason Chicago got away with flushing their refuse past St. Louis is that engineers blasted the decisive dam to start the new flow in the middle of the night on New Years Day—just in time to preempt a lawsuit coming together in St. Louis. Today the decision is still controversial—for its contribution to toxic algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico, and for its otherwise unprecedented withdrawal of fresh water from the Great Lakes—but it has also come to be revered for its sheer engineering bombast. The American Society of Civil Engineers in 1999 named The Chicago Wastewater System a "Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium."
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Thorsten Helbig on Engineering Cutting-Edge Facades

As an engineer, Thorsten Helbig, co-founder of Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineering, has a unique perspective on facade design. "We conceptualize a facade as an integral part of a whole, as part of a larger system," he explained. Helbig, who will deliver the morning keynote address at next month's Facades+ NYC conference, identified two focal points. The first is the relationship of the building envelope to structure. The second is performance: "What can the facade offer back to the building?" Helbig asked Helbig queries all of his facade design choices. "Can we use the facade to capture energy for the building? What are the operation modes—is there a potential the facade could be flexible or adaptive to actively support the building functions?" In both cases, Knippers Helbig is invested in moving beyond yesterday's solutions. "Our engineering approach is fundamentally driven by our interest in innovation," said Helbig. Two areas in which Knippers Helbig is leading the innovation charge are design technology and materials. The firm began developing tessellation tools for grid shells about two decades ago, well before similar software was commercially available. In the years since, the engineers have refined their in-house technology into a multi-criteria optimization tool, which proved critical to the Shenzhen airport project. "Our work on the Shenzhen airport profoundly shaped our approach to design technology—as it relates to our basic understanding of the design process (or you might say process design)—and as it relates to a potential paradigm shift in project organization as a whole: away from the traditional hierarchical-linear design process toward a design of the process in which all design parameters are simultaneously considered," explained Helbig. As for materials, the firm is known for its facility with both conventional and "new" systems. Knippers Helbig capitalized on the flexible strength of glass fibre reinforced polymers (GFRP) first for an operable facade in a typhoon zone for South Korea's Expo 2012 pavilion, then for a proposed shading concept for Renzo Piano's Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. "However," added Helbig, "even more traditional building materials such as timber can be re-interpreted through an application of the latest design and fabrication technologies." Two cases in point are a double curved multi-layer grid shell in Cologne and a parametrically developed timber grid shading screen for a Dubai high-rise. Knippers Helbig is also known for its sensitivity to environmental performance. Helbig points out that 75 percent of New York City's greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to the building sector. "As long as we are not able to generate the required energy emission-free and based fully on renewable resources, the reduction of the operational energy will remain a key factor in designing sustainable buildings," he said. Embedded energy is also a concern, leading the engineers to explore materials that are based on renewable resources and/or compostable at end of life. Knippers Helbig recently collaborated on the EpiCenter Expansion for Artists for Humanity (with Behnisch Architekten and Transsolar), poised to become Boston's first LEED Platinum building and the first Energy Plus house in New England. "The facade system will be developed to have the capacity to supply energy back to the building, ultimately producing a building system that generates more energy than it consumes," Helbig explained. To hear more from Helbig and other movers and shakers in the world of facade design and construction, register today for Facades+ NYC. Visit the conference website for more information and a full schedule.